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The 2014 Kia Sorento has made some real changes.  The engineers made the vehicle more spacious and it also has a quieter ride.
By Frank S. Washington
PHOENIX, AZ – When anybody is trying to sell you a new model of anything, they always tell you that it’s completely new. The usual response is yeah, right.
That’s what I said when they told me the 2014 Kia Sorento had been completely changed despite being all new in 2010. But I changed my tune after listening to a list of alterations that had been made to the CUV as well as a test drive here of the 2014 Kia Sorento crossover utility vehicle.
It had a new front fascia, new head and taillights and a new wheel design. That stuff is pretty standard when it comes to freshening. But the Sorento’s product manager kept talking – and he had pictures.
From the front, the Sorento’s design was smoother, it looked wider and it had more sophistication. The interior had that ambiance that comes with a quality build. There were soft touch points on the dash and the analogue instruments were clear, concise and easy to read. They even changed the gated shifter to a straight back shifter because it looked more sophisticated.
Engineers eked out a little more room in the interior which can be equipped with a third row. Our test vehicle did not have that feature. The new Sorento had also been lowered by 10 millimeters for easier entry and exit.
But the real changes were made beneath the sheet metal. Those adjustments make all the difference in the character and personality of any vehicle. However, under the skin changes to any vehicle make for really boring advertising.
That’s why product previews and debuts are really important, you can learn a bunch of stuff about how a vehicle was improved that is never seen or heard in advertising or marketing campaigns.
Anyway, Kia “tinkered” with the 2014 Sorento’s suspension, bushings and control arms to improve its ride. The vehicle has what Kia calls Motor Drive Power Steering that allows for different steering ratio settings. Overall, new electric power steering gives the vehicle a quicker ratio and a turning radius of 38.5 feet and a 2.9 lock-to-lock maximum on the steering wheel.
The rims have been widened by a half inch for better stability. Brake rotors are larger for improved stopping. Tower bracing has been stiffened and that aided in creating a body that is 18 percent stiffer than that of the 2013 Kia Sorento.
Rather than three engine offerings there are now two. New is a 3.3-liter direct injection V6 that makes a hefty 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. The 2.4-liter direct injection four-cylinder engine returns and is now the standard engine.
All-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive remain. Under normal driving conditions, the AWD system is 100 percent front-wheel-drive. But wheel slip can send up to 50 percent of the torque to the rear wheels and the driver can lock in the 50-50 torque split at lower speeds. Torque vectoring is also new.
The 2014 Kia Sorento can be equipped with a panoramic roof, heated and cooled front seats as well as heated second row seats, exterior door handle illumination, blind spot detection, second row seat articulation (the second row seats can slide back and forth) and a premium 550 watt audio system available.
All these changes resulted in a vehicle that was awfully quiet. Utility vehicles, because of their high profiles, can have noticeable wind noise. That wasn’t the case with the 2014 Kia Sorento.
The suspension was great and there was no body sway in the curves. The ride was smooth, and the steering was accurate. We had the 3.3 liter engine; power was delivered quickly, quietly and with authority. In a phrase, the character of the 2014 Sorento has been upgraded.
Still, I plan to get the 2014 Kia Sorento in urban America for a test drive and see how it performs in my world conditions. Prices start at $24,100 for the four-cylinder and $27,500 for the V6.
  Frank S. Washington is editor of . 
This was printed in the March 24, 2013 – April 6, 2013 Edition